WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., along with U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, John Thune, R-S.D., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, today introduced the Tornado Observation Research Notification and Deployment to Operations (TORNADO) Act to improve the forecasting and understanding of tornadoes and other hazardous weather. The TORNADO Act would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) to update its methods for communicating alerts to residents in the surrounding areas.
“December’s four-state tornado outbreak and Iowa’s recent tornado brought catastrophic damage and claimed dozens of lives,” said Wicker. “These deadly outbreaks showed that even when tornadoes are well-forecasted, lead times and warnings do not always ensure the public can respond or that appropriate shelter is available. Nighttime storms can also make notification more difficult and hinder the ability to see approaching tornadoes. The TORNADO Act would ensure that NOAA is working to improve hazardous weather forecasting and communication to help prevent the loss of life and property in future storms.”
“Sadly, Mississippians are no strangers to the perils of tornadoes, especially this time of year,” Hyde-Smith said. “Improving forecasting and modernizing how NOAA alerts communities to hazardous weather will do more to get residents to safety faster, potentially saving lives.”
The TORNADO Act would:
- Establish a Hazard Risk Communication Office to simplify and improve the communication of alerts;
- Establish a pilot program in collaboration with a historically Black college or university in close proximity to a Weather Forecast Office to test the effectiveness of implementing new techniques for hazardous weather communication;
- Require NOAA to prepare and submit an action plan for the national implementation of high-resolution probabilistic guidance for tornado forecasting and prediction;
- Encourage NOAA to evaluate the current tornado rating system and make updates; and
- Require NOAA to coordinate with appropriate entities when conducting post-storm assessments to optimize data collection, sharing, and integration.
Click here to read the bill.